Santa Clara Pueblo, NM Consultation
The Department of Education participated in a consultation with regional Tribal Leaders in Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico, on May 3, 2010. This consultation was hosted at Santa Clara Day School by the All Indian Pueblo Council.
The event attracted more than 100 participants, including nineteen pueblo governors and leaders from the Navajo, Hopi, and Ho-Chunk Nations. The consultation was moderated by All Indian Pueblo Council Chairman Joe Garcia and Department of Education Under Secretary Martha Kanter. Other attendees from the Department included Jenelle Leonard, Acting Director of the Office of Indian Education; Ricardo Soto, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights; and Nia Phillips, Deputy General Counsel. In addition, the Department of the Interior's Wizipan Garriott, Policy Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, attended the meeting.
One of the most prevalent discussion topics was the need, according to participants, for more (and more consistent) funding for education. For example, some leaders suggested that Tribal education departments require more resources in order to fulfill both the needs of their tribes and the implementation of federal education programs. There was also a significant degree of consensus among Tribal members about the need for more funding for (and more attention to) alternative forms of education, such as vocational training.
The integration of traditional American Indian and Alaska Native language and culture into existing curricula was also discussed. Tribal Leaders spoke about specific immersion programs that they believe have been highly successful. Furthermore, many felt that assessments that reflect an understanding of American Indian and Alaska Native culture would be more appropriate for their students. More generally, some Tribal Leaders expressed concern that the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) relies on state standards and assessments rather than helping tribes to develop their own.
Other topics of conversation included improving coordination between the BIE and the Department of Education, restructuring the disbursement of Impact Aid funding, and expanding tribes' access to their members' student records. Also, many Tribal Leaders discussed the "trust relationship" between the federal government and American Indian and Alaska Native tribes, reminding the officials from the Department of Education and the Department of the Interior that interactions with tribes must respect Tribal sovereignty and self-determination.